LANCASTER, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's soccer team was picked 10th in the Centennial Conference preseason poll.
The Bears received nine points in a vote of the conference's head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Johns Hopkins sat atop the table with 80 points and eight first-place ballots, while defending champion Franklin & Marshall was runner-up with 72 points and the other two first-place nods. Dickinson and Gettysburg were tied for third with 60 points and Haverford was fifth at 52 points. Muhlenberg and Swarthmore were level with 36 points for sixth, with Washington College (27) and McDaniel (18) ahead of Ursinus.
The Bears were the youngest team in the CC a year ago, with nine freshmen earning at least three starts and not a single senior on the roster. That inexperience showed up in a lack of offensive firepower, as Ursinus scored just 11 goals in 16 games – just three in conference play.
This time, head coach Keith Cappo has eight seniors to call on, all of whom started at least two matches in 2017. Justin Molyneaux and John Romero have been fixtures in the midfield over the last two seasons, and Derek Rudy is back for his third year as a full-time starter; he anchored the defense and led the squad with two goals last season. Junior Colin Klingman brings a steadying presence and another two years of starting experience to the unit.
Senior forward Ben Amaral should give the Bears some punch up top; he missed half of last season due to injury but has five goals and three assists in his career.
Sophomore defenders D.J. Briggs and Jacob Helwig were regular starters as rookies, while classmate Alexis Ayala tied for the team lead with four points on a goal and two assists from his forward spot.
With the addition of a talented crop of 11 freshmen, the Bears expect to be much more of a player on the conference scene this season. They kick off their campaign in the nation's capital as part of Catholic's "Turk" Emekli D.C. Classic on August 31 against the host Cardinals. The first home game is September 5 against Arcadia.